Aditya Sinha: Chums of anarchy
For the Supreme Court to hint that Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal is an anarchist is ironic; for the BJP to call him one is hypocrisy
Last week, the Supreme Court told Prime Minister Narendra Modi's lackey in Delhi, Lt Governor Anil Baijal, to back off from Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal's elected government. It said Baijal had to respect the elected government and was bound by its advice. The court added, gratuitously, that there was no room for "absolutism and anarchism" in governance. This was provoked by Kejriwal's recent dharna inside the LG's residence. "Sometimes it is argued, though in a different context, that one can be a 'rational anarchist', but the said term has no entry in the field of constitutional governance and rule of law," the court said.
Anarchy is derived from the Greek "anarchia", meaning the absence of government. Anarchists believe that government restricts the individual's choices. The society's aim is not to enter a social contract to restrict an individual's choices, but to widen his/her choices without interfering in the choices of another. For anarchists, the state is an artificial construct. It is merely an aggregate of individuals, and cannot be placed higher than the individual.
The term "rational anarchist" belongs to science fiction writer Robert Heinlein (it's surprising that the bench headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra should quote him), who in The Moon is a Harsh Mistress says that, "a rational anarchist believes that the concepts of state, government and society have no existence except as physically exemplified as the acts of individuals... but being rational, an individual knows that not all individuals hold his evaluations, so he tries to live perfectly in an imperfect world".
To call Kejriwal an anarchist, as BJP supporters casually and routinely do, is technically incorrect. Being the chief executive of a state in the Union of India he subscribes to the concepts of state, government and society. Calling him an anarchist is a display of ignorance about anarchism. Also, it demonstrates the BJP cheerleader's antipathy for an individual by labelling him the opposite of what they worship – loyalty, order, patriotism, submission and Aadhaar. For them, anarchism is the antithesis of fascism.
For the Supreme Court to hint that Kejriwal is an anarchist is ironic; for the BJP to call him an anarchist is hypocrisy. If the BJP thinks of anarchism as lawlessness, then it may be reminded that Max Weber, one of the founders of sociology, defined the State as the entity holding the monopoly over violence in a society, exercised through its police and its army. Through this monopoly, the State controls the individuals within its territory and thereby maintains peace, and law and order.
Clearly, under Modi, the State has abdicated its textbook responsibilities in pursuit of its ruling party's political program. It ignores particular acts of violence, a habit of the BJP since 1992: though its supporters may see the Babri Masjid's demolition in Ayodhya as a sort of civilisational push-back against a thousand years of Muslim rule, the tearing down of the mosque was a lawless action, contravening a Supreme Court order, to which the Uttar Pradesh government (and then PM PV Narasimha Rao) turned a blind eye. Modi perfected his supervised anarchy in 2002, when mobs revenged the killings of Hindu pilgrims in Godhra by running riot in Gujarat over three days. Anarchy is in his DNA.
Much of the anarchy nowadays is committed by India's "incels", the involuntary celibates, as their American counterparts call themselves. Taking a cue from Modi, state governments don't react when lynching incidents take place, be they of suspected cow-smugglers or WhatsApp-accused child-lifters. It is also no surprise that their energy is directed at abusing or threatening women. To threaten someone with rape, simply because she does not like or worship Modi, is a commonplace these days.
Ironically, those who find anarchy convenient also have blind faith in the State under Modi, as exemplified by their belief that Aadhaar is benign and that only anti-nationals have something to hide. Modi's anarchists are a rag-tag army of lynchers, rapists and Darwin-denying boneheaded ministers.
It is ironic that Modi's supporters call Kejriwal an "anarchist". It shows the insecurity that strongman Modi feels when faced with the reality of the Aam Aadmi Party; apparently Modi can't stand to even look at Kejriwal during official meetings.
The Supreme Court verdict must have embittered Modi, who is not fond of losing. No wonder his lackey Baijal is now finding areas of dispute within the court order to continue to defy Kejriwal. It is unfortunate, because the CM is a popular man who has enacted popular programs for the poor and lower classes in Delhi. This is why Kejriwal is Modi's bête noire, instead of announcing populist jumlas that are unfulfilled, Kejriwal produces actual results. Modi would do well to ponder the difference between populism and anarchism during his final 11 months.
Aditya's latest book, The Spy Chronicles: RAW, ISI and the Illusion of Peace, co-written with AS Dulat and Asad Durrani, is now available. He tweets @autumnshade Send your feedback to firstname.lastname@example.org
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Did you know Narendra Modi once wanted to become a monk?